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True Police Stories

"Courage is the ability to move; when all around you are frozen in fear
and no one would blame you if you did nothing at all." Capt. Click. Phx. PD

My Name is Jeff Hernandez

Taken from the book Think About it... for your reading convenience

Iíve been called ďJeffĒ almost the entire time I have been in this, ďThe Valley of the Sun.Ē I embark on this moment to complete my writings with great heaviness in my heart and I sit here in tears sobbing about what I am about to describe. My tears obstruct my vision of my keyboard at times. I am truly humble to be thought of well enough to submit this small contribution.

I was close to twenty years of age when I decided to become a police officer. I was influenced by a dear friend who had only begun as a reserve officer with the Globe Police Department. In my youth, I was very inactive as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As it turned out, I was looking for something in my life. Something much more than a badge. It was with my first agency that I found two friends by the names of Jim and Sandy. They both so impressed me. Their impact was that of a caring brother and sister. Through their example, I so wanted to have a family such as they had, and I wanted something else as well, ...a testimony!

                    I wanted a testimony of the gospel!
                                       A testimony of the truthfulness of the Church of
                                                        Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.


Throughout my life it has been others that have strengthened and made my testimony what it is today. Jim and Sandy are a big part of it. Theyíve had their own problems and challenges along the way but I pray our Lord and Savior will look kindly upon them and help them with the many favors and blessings they stand in need of, for all the many things they have done for others.

          A testimony is not what we have but what we build.
                    We build it from the examples of those around us in our lives.
                              We build it from the things we study, ponder and pray about.

So many people have helped to build mine as well. I donít consider myself a strong macho man, but I am a sizable 6 foot 3 inch, 270 pound Motor Officer. I wear shiny black boots that come up to my knees, a shiny blue and white helmet with the department shield on the front of it. I wear dark shaded sunglasses and I carry a gun. From the bottom of my boots to the top of my helmet, Iím almost 6 foot 6. Iím probably one of the biggest motor officers you will ever see. I guess some may think thatís macho. But thatís not the thing or the strength that I seek. I have been made strong through the testimony that many have helped to build. I have met both good and bad, experienced both happy and sad, throughout my career as a police officer and it is they that have made this impact on me.

With over twenty-one years of law enforcement experience and three different agencies, there arenít many horror scenes I havenít seen. Iíve been a motor officer for six of those years. During that time, Iím not sure how many fatalities Iíve been to or how many dead and mangled bodies Iíve seen. Nor do I know how many broken and destroyed families Iíve had to deal with. I try not to keep track of those things. I could tell you many stories, but the stories Iíve chosen to tell you are very personal and are of great meaning and worth to me.

Many years ago, on a dark night at 2230, as a patrol officer with the Globe Police Department, I received a call I would never forget. The call came in as a domestic violence call. I remember it as though I was there right now. The man who had been involved in an argument with his estranged wife, was outside, standing in the driveway. Their home was a mobile home and appeared to be very run down. To this day, I donít remember what their fight was about. Officers will tell you that most families in this predicament donít remember either.

When I got there, there he stood. He was in the wash at the entrance to the drive with his side arm strapped to his side. He was ready to protect his home, his honor and his good name. He was ready to protect them to the death of one or both of us if thatís what it took. We stood approximately six feet apart. Tension was high. My hand never went toward my revolver. I wasnít stunned or frozen but immediately began embarking on silent prayer to my Heavenly Father. As I did so, I felt this most relaxed feeling come over me and for some reason all the right words came to my mind and after my prayer, I conversed with the man. We had this stand off for nearly twenty minutes. Finally it was over and all was resolved peacefully. Both of us would be able to return to our families and live one more day. I left with a prayer of gratitude in my heart.

Man is an impatient soul but our Heavenly Father is quite the opposite.
I know and believe this with all my heart.

One day Tucson Police Dept. called and requested that we check an address. They had been
investigating the homicide of an eighteen year old girl. One of their leads for the next of kin, led to a family in Globe. They requested that the possible family in our city, phone them for the unfortunate news of a dead family member. The dispatcher gave that call to me. ďHow could I tell them such a thing,Ē I thought! Somehow the official message lost some accuracy in my ultimate assignment. I was given the task of delivering that message, but what would I say and how would I say it. I met the family and delivered the message as given me. The mother was devastated. She had given her daughter up for adoption at birth. Nearly eighteen years had gone by and she never knew her daughter. They met shortly before her death. They both re-united and had a wonderful month together. They vowed to never separate again except for living in different communities.

          My testimony was greatly shaken. How could our Lord let this happen.
                                      To have and to lose all of this so quickly,
                                                                 and at the hands of a suspect so reckless.


I realized that I was only being selfish to think this way. This poor lady needed all that I had. She must have been miles lower than I was. Again I relied on the Lord for help and I stretched deep down into my soul to bring up all that I could to help her. I bore testimony of my beliefs and about her daughter that I didnít even know. I spoke the things I felt in my heart to tell her. I assured her of Heavenly Fatherís plan, our plan of salvation.

Sometimes, we the police, ask if family, neighbors or clergy can be called to assist people in times of loss but that wasnít necessary here. I was all that she needed and the Lord provided all that I needed. I truly thank my Heavenly Father for His masterful help. After perhaps thirty minutes, we  made that call to Tucson PD and we made it together. I know she will never be alone again. For a couple of years, while I was still with Globe PD, I received birthday cards and I know it was her way to say thanks and to commemorate her daughterís birthday.

             A testimony doesnít always come upon you from your own experiences
                                     but sometimes comes from the experiences of others.
                                                             Experiences both good and bad.


Sometimes I wonder if it was a loving Heavenly Father that knew she would soon lose her life and allowed a mother and her daughter to meet at this last possible moment. To allow them to become friends and to fall in love. I believe they think of each other often and I believe they will look for each other on the other side. I also believe that I was sent and given the words to say to tie things over until they meet again someday.

For the past ten years I have worked for the Mesa Police Department. In December of 1995, I was assigned to the East Valley Task Force. Itís a highly selective enforcement unit. The target is DUI drivers. One of the many stops I made was on a 60's model Volkswagen. I watched it make a u-turn in front of a fast approaching car. A definite clue of impairment. I pulled in behind the VW and pulled it over. I knew I had a drunk driver. To my surprise, out stepped a young, unintoxicated and very excited female. She said, ďI know officer I am in the wrong and you should ticket me. My taillights donít work, my plates are expired, and I just lost my place to live. Do you know of anyone that needs a house sitter? After I leave the temple tonight, I wonít have a place to go!Ē

Her accent was heavy English and she was most curious. She didnít hesitate to speak of her work in what she called the Lordís House. I learned that she had come from England with $80.00. She came to what she thought would be a land of opportunity. She took up a position working as a volunteer at the Mesa Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Ward members took up the tasks of helping her get established here but the helping family took hard times and she lost the home she was staying at. At one point, she told me that she was a Mormon. Planning on having fun with her for a short time and as I stood there towering above her I asked ďWhat is a Mormon.Ē She spoke quickly and worked with ease at answering my inquiries. I replied with many more questions and she, doubting nothing, answered all without any hesitation. What a powerful testimony she had and what a wonderful example she was for me.

          Before we parted, I told her of my beliefs and that I too was a Mormon.
                      What a thrilling stop it was for me. I told many of my friends about it.
                                                          ...And oh yes, I didnít ticket her!

I have sat at night, when all my family was in bed and sleeping and have thought of dying and leaving this life. I feel so saddened and even a little, no, even a lot scared. My relief comes when I think of the plan of salvation and the work my Lord has for me to do. Our life is so short here and much more is planned for each and every one of us. We are all brothers and sisters in God, and as brothers and sisters, I pray that my messages have brought to some of you a sense of urgency. A strength of knowing that none of us are strong but only weak unless we grow within ourselves and build a testimony to share with others. I know that God lives and that Jesus Christ died that we might have everlasting life. That a plan was set forth for all of us in the pre-existence and that I cheered that plan when it was prepared. I pray that all my brothers and sisters come to know this plan so they too might sit alone at night, fearing not, but knowing they too are of this plan. I know that the Lord Jesus Christ lives and I know that this is His true Church.

                    Of these things I testify,
                                       in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

                                             Motor Officer Thomas J. Hernandez Badge #8419.


Author's note: It's easy and common to say about someone after they die that they were a well respected person, but Jeff really was: very well respected. On Sunday morning the 5th of August, 2001, I heard about Jeff's sudden and unexpected death. It impacted me so much that I sat down and in a couple of hours my feelings were out on paper. I called them:

 

                          Gentle Ben...

He stood 6 foot 6 from the top of his helmet to the soul of his boots.
       I remember looking at him and wondering where he got his roots.
When you shook his hand, it felt like you were holding a bearís paw.
       And for twenty-seven years, heíd been a representative of the law.
At two hundred and sixty pounds, he was as thick as a tree stump.
       And if he needed to, heíd yell and his voice could make you jump.
On the family fights weíd been on, I noticed heíd fill the hallway
       and Iíd seen mouthy people be more careful of what theyíd say.

Jeff could be stern if he needed. He was brave, he was big, he was tall.
       You could see his command presence when heíd walk up on your call.
But even though he was big and commanding, a giant among men,
       he was one of the nicest guys Iíd met. He reminded me of Gentle Ben.
He never thought it funny to hurt, demean or browbeat others.
       He was different, never forgetting all of us are sisters and brothers.
It was an odd thing for a police officer of twenty-seven years
       to be moved by compassion for others and sometimes shed tears.

One of the things I liked the most was that he was an honest man inside.
       To him, being an honest man was a matter of honor and pride.
But now he is gone and many friends and loved ones wonder why.
       Why did a man who enjoyed life and family so, ...suddenly die?
Now he visits with friends and family as he waits for those he loves.
       And he watches them from a hidden place, not so far above.
Though much more difficult now, heíll help them where he can.
       He hasnít gone far, he loves them still, itís part of the Lordís plan.

Death is only a parting of company for what may seem a long time.
       But they will see him again and this time his countenance will shine.
Heíll do well on judgement day because of how he chose to live.
       He was good to his family, kind to others and always willing to give.
Though an officer, Jeff was first a family man. He had his priorities straight.
       There is a mansion for him above and heíll be welcome at the Pearly Gate.
There is a lesson in the way he lived, he wasnít consumed with things or strife.
       He knew all that counted is not who you were ...but how you lived your life.

       Officer Samuel Jeppsen #3751 (Ret) R# 140,
       Sunday morning, August 5th, 2001
   www.LDSCOPS.com

                          To a fellow officer and friend forever, Big Jeff Hernandez #8419
                                                                   121653 to 080401

 

If you are or were a police officer, soldier, fireman
or wife, mother, father of such or some other branch of emergency personnel
and would like to share an unusual testimony building experience with others,
please contact us for details at

Samuel@ldscops.com

or use the link on the front page of this site at

www.LDSCOPS.com

Thank you and God bless,

Samuel-LDS

"Think About it..." mailed to your home for only $14.94   S&H included

Read "Think About it..." Online Warrior Stories  | Excerpts | News Articles | Poems
Rear Cover | Reviews | About the Book | About the Author | Order | E-Mail  |  Home

S&J Liberty Publishing
P.O. Box 7899   Mesa, AZ 85216-7899
A 317 page full size book, mailed to your home for only $14.95   S&H included